Is it Ever Okay to Pray Against a Relationship?

When is it okay to pray that God would prevent something from happening?

God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. And He invites us to share every burden with Him (1 Peter 5:7). He already knows what is on our hearts. He knows what prayers we have before we say them. There is no need to come trying to hide anything.

So my point is simply: be honest when you pray. Makes no sense to try otherwise. If there is a relationship that looks like it may be toxic, just take that to God.

“Father, You know everything. I don’t. But this relationship looks like trouble, and I don’t want to see someone get hurt in the longterm...”

But remember: everything you pray for, you should ask according to God’s Will. 1 John 5:14 says “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (emphasis mine)

Every single prayer should end there. “...but God, you know what is right and best. So may your will be done, and give me the faith to trust you during this time.” That is yielding to His sovereignty and wisdom.

We pray in reverence and faith. But as far as I can see, no subjects are off limits. No concerns too small. God loves you and wants to commune with you in prayer.

p.s. - God already knows...

How to Tell if Your Pastor is Legit

I recently heard a pastor being described with what was one of the strangest things you can say about a pastor. And the same phrase came from several people. I am not bashing the guy. He’s got a thriving ministry and is an excellent speaker. These people describing him were big fans, anyways. I just thought the way he was described was rather... unusual.

He’s not a people person.

He’s not a people person?!

About the third time I heard it, whoever told me elaborated on it a bit. He doesn’t really do the “people” stuff. He is sort of detached from the people. All he really does is speak.

I don’t really know the guy, and I don’t know if any of this is true. But here is what I do know: I never want anyone to describe me that way.

Many pastors in our day seem to care about the polished sermons, popularity, entertaining people, or being revered. But Biblically, there is one thing the pastor should care about more than just about anything: the church, that is, the people. We see this in the heart of Paul throughout our 1 Thessalonians study. Thankful for you, praying for you, love you like a mother, give ourselves for you, love you like a father, couldn’t wait to see you again, you are our crown of boasting, we feel so alive knowing that you are standing strong... (See chapter 1:3-4, 2:7-12, 17, 19, 3:5-10.) You can’t miss the fact that Paul as Pastor loved the Lord, loved the Gospel... and loved the church.

Not just in 1 Thessalonians, either. Look at 2 Corinthians 11:28-29: And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

This comes on the tail end of Paul describing how he has been shipwrecked, imprisoned, and beaten. And he is saying, “That stuff is the least of my worries! My concern is for the church!”

One chapter later in 2 Corinthians 12:15, he says, I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. Notice Paul isn’t complaining about OT (overtime, not Old Testament) or difficult people or not getting his day off. He was glad to pour himself out, to work to exhaustion – for the sake of their souls. That’s the heart of a legit pastor.

Let’s get real. Sermons may flop. Potlucks may be a let down. The Christmas service may not have been to your liking last year. But if you are looking for real criteria to properly evaluate your pastor, here is a great place to start: Does he love his people?

New Feature! Question of the Week!

Because we didn't get to cover everyone's questions on Q&A Day (December 28), we will feature "Question of the Week" for our blogs! That's fun, right?

Same rules:

  1. I will answer what I understand is being asked, and...
  2. I will give the short answer. 

On to where we left off Sunday...

Since the Bible says clearly to love each other, if I am struggling with loving someone and asking God to fill me with love for that person, and am not quite there, should I just fake it or is there Biblically a way to handle this another way? One end feels like hypocrisy and the other disobedience.

I understand. You know the Bible says to love others, but you just aren’t feeling it with this person, so it can feel fake.

Good news: Love is a choice. There are different words for “love” in the Greek language (in which the Bible was written). One word is erosthat is hubba-hubba husband and wife love. Phileo is friendship love - affection you have for your BFF that you don’t have for the stranger in line behind you at Target. But the love of God, that He calls us to, is agape. That is choosing to love, choosing to put the other person’s need ahead of your own, self-sacrificing love. So you can choose to love someone even if you don’t feel like it by making choices to show love through your actions. As I heard James MacDonald say: Feelings are a lousy engine but a great caboose. You don't let your feelings lead you! But feelings do have a way of catching up when you are committed to making choices that honor God.

p.s. - phileo is where we get "Philadelphia" - city of brotherly love, it's called. Ironic, huh?

If You Have Ever Met at Least One Other Person, Read This...

Starting April 21, we will be going through a sermon series from the book of Proverbs: The Joy of Committed Relationships!

Let’s be honest: relationships can be a headache. I mean, who among us hasn’t considered becoming a monk or retreating to the woods to live off the land like a modern day Pioneer? But God has given us all relationships to glorify Him… and to give us joy! How about a word from Him on how that happens? On what that looks like? On how I can not just tolerate, but JOYFULLY LOVE the most important people He has put into my life? Sign me up. We all need it.

Joy is our theme this year, but we are not going after joy; we are going after Jesus, and He gives us HIS joy (John 15:11)!

What does Proverbs and that books teachings on relationships have to do with Jesus? And how does the wisdom Proverbs calls us to in our relationships tie in to Jesus?

The goal of Proverbs isn’t to give cookie-cutter nuggets of good thinking to help us along - it is to help us draw closer to the God who is wisdom! And just as our joy is tied up in Jesus, so is our wisdom.

How so?

Jesus lived wisdom.

During His time on earth, Jesus lived perfect wisdom (Luke 2:40 and Luke 2:52). He grew in it, He lived it, He taught with it. Jesus applied perfect wisdom every moment of every day He walked on earth. Wow.

Jesus is wisdom.

Colossians 2:3 says in Jesus is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He didn’t just live it… He IS it!

Jesus is the way of wisdom.

Proverbs constantly contrasts foolishness and wisdom, calling us to choose wisdom. Jesus taught the same, but emphasized that He isn’t just telling us the way - He IS the way! (Matthew 7:24-27, John 14:6)

Jesus supplies wisdom.

It would be easy to go through Proverbs and just say, “OK, got it. I’ll just be wise.” No can do. Wisdom doesn’t come from us. Jesus has to give it to us. (Luke 21:15, James 1:5).

What’s my point? We just finished a series about Jesus called: I AM - The Incomparable Claims of Jesus Christ. And this series on Proverbs and relationships and joy is NOT “OK, let’s talk about something else for a while.” It’s still all about the Person and Work of Jesus, trusting Him for the grace and faith to apply His Word.

I hope you kept the receipt for that tent you bought. We are not retreating from people. We are going to love people. Whether you are married or someday hope to be married, or a parent or someday hope to be a parent, or a friend or someday hope to have friends… God is going to work in you through this series.

Do not miss it. 

p.s. - is not a monk, but has been told by others he should take a vow of silence